Birth & Early Life
Born in 356 BC to Philip II. king of the northern Greek kingdom of Macedonia and Olympias, the daughter of the king of Epiros. Ancient legend has it that on the eve of his parents’ consummation, his mother’s womb was struck by a thunderbolt that caused a flame that, according to Plutarch, would “spread far and wide before dying away”. Even Phillip recalled a dream he held where he had to secure his wife’s womb with a lion-engraved seal.
He was raised in the manner of nobility, learning to read, play the lyre, ride, fight, and hunt. He was nursed by the sister of his future general and was tutored by a strict relative of his mother. He had great understanding and grasp, he even held enough clarity in his youth to figure out and understand an unruly horse to the point of taming it. Naming it Bucephalas, who would carry him his whole military career, his father saw it as a early sign of his courage and ambition.
On the day Alexander was born, Philip was preparing a siege on the city of Potidea on the peninsula of Chalcidice. That same day, Philip received news that his general Parmenion had defeated the combined Illyrian and Paeonian armies and that his horses had won at the Olympic Games. It was also said that on this day, the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, burnt down. This led Hegesias of Magnesia to say that it had burnt down because Artemis was away, attending the birth of Alexander. Such legends may have emerged when Alexander was king, and possibly at his instigation, to show that he was superhuman and destined for greatness from conception
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